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Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Objects from the Cradle of Civilization by Judith Price.
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DESCRIPTION: Oversized softcover. Publisher: Echo Point Books & Media (2017). Pages: 144. 8½ x 8½ inches; 1¼ pounds. Dimensions: 8½ x 8½ inches; 1¼ pounds.
CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. Echo Point Books & Media (2017) 146 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 30 days! #7595.1a
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REVIEW: From the president of the National Jewelry Institute comes the largest collection of the oldest jeweled objects ever assembled. With sparkling photography and history throughout, the book will be supported by a major exhibit of the collection. These gorgeous artifacts; the oldest jeweled armor, weapons, jewelry, household objects, and more, with informative captions and stunning photography on every page, originated in Mesopotamia, Persia, Levant, the Byzantine Empire, and the Islamic world, from 4000 B.C.E. through 700 C.E. Artifacts appearing in the book are being lent to the exhibit by almost every major permanent collection of ancient objects in the world: jeweled treasures from the Louvre, the Berlin Museum, the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan, the Princeton Museum, and the Israeli Museum are shown together for the first time. Also included are interviews with major scholars and curators from around the world, speaking on ancient civilizations and the remaining artifacts that reveal their truly stunning cultures.
REVIEW: Judith Price is the president of the National Jewelry Institute, a highly regarded non-profit organization established to create and support exhibitions of the most important jewelry of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. She is the founder of “Avenue” magazine and the author of “Executive Style”, “Masterpieces of American Jewelry”, and “Masterpieces of French Jewelry”. She lives in New York City.
Ms. Price is currently founder and President of the National Jewelry Institute, the country's first fine jewelry museum. The National Jewelry Institute launched its first exhibition, “Masterpieces of American Jewelry”, in New York in 2004, before opening in London at Somerset House and in Paris at the Musée Carnavalet. Subsequent exhibitions in the US and Europe include: “Treasures of the Titans”; “Masterpieces of French Jewelry”; “Lorenz Baumer: The Creative Process of a Jeweler”; “Olympic Gold”; “Designer Showcase New York”; and “Designer Showcase Paris”. In 2009 the National Jewelry Institute exhibited “Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Objects from the Cradle of Civilization”, including objects from the Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Berlin Museum, in New York and Chicago.
REVIEW: This stunning book showcases the largest collection of ancient jeweld objects ever assembled, with sparkling photography and history throughout. Jewelry aficionado, and president of America's National Jewelry Institute, Judith Price has compiled a collection of the most stunning ancient objects ever assembled. Pieces on loan come from the Berlin Museum, the Louvre, the British Museum, the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan Museum, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Princeton Museum are thousands of years old, some from as far back as 4,000 B.C. The gorgeous artifacts originated in the ancient times of Mesopotamia, Persia, Levant, the Byzantine Empire, and the Islamic world, and are of incomparable worth. The book will be supported by a major exhibit of the collection.
REVIEW: A spectacular survey of jeweled objects from early civilization through about 1500 A.D. "Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry" is a fine collection of not only the objects, but a comprehensive collection of essays and interviews with jewelry historians around the world, providing a reference to the times and places the jewelry was made and used. [Sacramento Book Review].
REVIEW: A rich array of jewelry from the ancient Near East was presented in this exhibition, some objects more than 7,000 years old, illuminating the culture and customs of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, Persia and the Islamic Middle East
REVIEW: There are surprisingly few books on jewelry in the ancient world that don't specialize in a specific culture. When I started reading this book I was surprised to find it had been produced in conjunction with an exhibition in New York but its not a listing catalogue as such and the scope is wide enough to encompass the early modern era as it includes Byzantine and early Islamic jewels. The book is divided into sections that deal with the jewelry found in Mesopotamia, The Levant, Persia, Byzantium and early Islam. Each section of the book has included an interview with a person who is a specialist in the area being discussed. The items illustrated are not just gold items but also beads, rings etc. The book has some lovely pieces illustrated, especially among the Byzantine and Islamic sections. Some of the best of these items are drawn from private collections and not commonly illustrated in other books. If you are after a book that covers areas in jewelry usually overlooked with ancient jewels, this is definitely worth picking up.
REVIEW: This would be an excellent edition to anyone's history of jewelry collection. It's not an encyclopedia on the subject, but it has a great selection of pieces from around the world. It's a great value considering it contains pieces you may never see other than in this book.
REVIEW: A well produced book. The book has been put together as a who's who of jewelry archaeologists. Each person has written a chapter illustrated with a few examples of the jewelry in their area of expertise/investigation.
REVIEW: Recently I have been learning more about history of jewelry. As a jewelry designer (novice) I found this to be helpful as were several other books that I bought about the same time. The photos are really great and simply learning about the materials used by people in the past, I feel confident that I can make some items that will be "true" to the time periods highlighted therein. Enjoyed reading this and know I will refer back to it many times.
REVIEW: I enjoyed flipping through this book as an inspiration for ideas for beaded and periodic jewelry. I did read a lot of the written material which was simply put together in easy to understand language. There are a few examples of ancient jewelry from different geographical areas.
REVIEW: This book provides an up-close and majestic view of exquisite jewelry, though. Hence, the title says it all: masterpieces. Book is filled with fabulous pictures that will thrill anyone who thinks that a little "bling" will brighten any day.
REVIEW: I love this book. It is on my coffee table. Beautiful pics and lovely history lessons inside about regions and techniques.
REVIEW: Fine jewelry is always interesting to read about. Combined with history is even better as knowledge is garnered about cultures as well.
ANCIENT JEWELRY: The art of the jeweler. Metalsmiths' shops were the training schools for many of the great artists of the Renaissance. Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghi-berti, Pollaiuolo, and Luca della Robbia all were trained as goldsmiths before they embarked upon the higher arts. The goldsmith made silver vases for the dinner tables of cardinals; knights sent sword blades to be mounted in rich hilts; ladies came to have their jewels set; princes needed medals to commemorate their victories; popes and bishops wished to place chased reliquaries on the altars of their patron saints; and men of fashion ordered medallions to wear upon their hats.
Although many materials-including iron-have been used for jewelry, gold is by far the most satisfactory. One could not expect the same results from any other metal, for the durability and the extraordinary ductility and pliancy of gold and its property of being readily drawn out or flattened into wire or leaf of almost infinite fineness have led to its being used for works in which minute-ness and delicacy of execution were required. Gold may be soldered, it may be cast, and any kind of surface, from the rough to the highest possible polish, given to it. It is the best of all metals upon which to enamel.
Gold was easily retrieved from the gravel of river beds, where it was washed from the eroded rocks; hence it is one of the oldest metals known. Unlike most metals, gold does not tarnish on exposure to the air but remains brilliant. Pure gold is too soft for general use, but it can be hardened and toughened by alloying with most of the other metals. Color is one of its important qualities. When the metal is pure, it is nearly the orange-yellow of the solar spectrum. When it contains a little silver, it is pale yellow, or greenish yellow; and when alloyed with a little copper, it takes a reddish tinge-all so effective in varicolored jewelry.
These alloys have an ancient history, electrum, an alloy of gold and silver which assured beautiful hues, having been used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and other ancient peoples. The ancients, from the most remote times, were acquainted with the art of beating gold into thin leaves, and this leaf was used for other purposes besides personal adornment. Gold leaf was used in buildings for gilding wood, and Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were adepts in applying it. It was no great departure to introduce gilded backgrounds to paintings or figures in mosaic and finally to illuminated manuscripts.
In the use of gold Byzantium went beyond Rome or Athens. When more skill was attained by painters, backgrounds in perspective took the place of those in gold. Early examples of leaf work in this exhibition may be seen in the headdress and jewelry of Queen Shubad's ladies-in-waiting from the excavations of the royal tombs at Ur in Mesopotamia. They date from a period between 3500 and 2800 B.C.
A second step was the cutting of gold leaf into thin strips to make wire. It is still a question whether the art of wire-drawing was known to the ancients. Plaited wire-work, as used in many places and over a wide period of time, is well represented in ancient history. Fusing and soldering are also ancient techniques. Granular work, the soldering of minute grains of gold one beside the other in a line or disposed ornamentally over a surface, was known to the ancient Egyptian jewelers, as well as to the classical, oriental, and barbarian gold-smiths. This traditional technique can be traced through the centuries, splendid granular work of the ancient and modern civilizations being well represented in archaeological finds.
Filigree, the arranging of wires in patterns, usually soldered to a base, is often associated with granular work. The oriental nations, especially the Moors, knew how to execute filigree with rare delicacy and taste, this technique adapting itself particularly to their designs. Embossing and chasing are techniques of widespread use. The relief effect of embossing is produced by various means. A thin pliable sheet of metal may be pressed into molds, between dies, or over stamps, or it may be molded free hand. An excellent example of an embossed gold sheet which was pressed or hammered may be seen in the Greek sword sheath from South Russia. In handwork the sheet of metal is placed against a ground with a yielding surface and the design is raised from the back by a series of punches.
The work of the chaser is closely related to that of the sculptor, the ornament on the face of a casting or an embossed work being finished with chisels or chasing tools. Jewelry was often enriched by stamping, a simple process by which a design is made in depression with a punch., and the gold fixed by heating to redness; and the surface finally burnished. In all countries the work of the lapidary was combined with that of the goldsmith.
Much jewelry depended for its splendor of effect chiefly upon its inlay of brilliantly colored stones, jaspers, agates, lapis lazuli. Much of the commoner kinds of jewelry, such as buckles for the belts of warriors or brooches for the vestments of ecclesiastics too poor to buy silver or gold, were made of bronze, enameled and mercury-gilded. Mercury-gilding is a process of great antiquity. The object was first carefully polished and rubbed with mercury; thin gold was then laid on and pressed down, the mercury being subsequently volatilized, and so forth, or upon colored glass inlays.
The Egyptians and Greeks were incomparable artists in intaglio (cutting concave designs or figures) in gold, and one notes with astonishment the mastery they possessed over the stubborn hard stones, including the sapphire. A Greek gold ring with an intaglio engraving of a girl stretching herself is one of the finest in ancient history. The engraver's art both in cameo and in intaglio attained a high degree of excellence about 500 B.C., which lasted until about the third or fourth century A.D. The classical artists used rich and warm-tinted oriental stones, the increased intercourse with the East after the death of Alexander the Great having a marked influence on the development of the art.
In gem-engraving the ancients used essentially the same principle that is in use today, that is, drilling with a revolving tool. They also used a sapphire or diamond point set in a handle and applied like a graver. In early medieval times gem-engraving was little practiced, but antique cameos were held in peculiar veneration on ac-count of the belief, then universal, in their potency as medicinal charms. With the Renaissance, the art of gem-engraving was revived, and engravers from that time onward have produced results equal to the best ancient work.
Glass in ancient times was so precious that some nations demanded tribute in this fragile material instead of gold. It is said that a citizen invented a method for making malleable glass and was invited to visit the Roman Emperor Tiberius. He brought a vase, which was thrown to the ground but only dented. A hammer again rounded it into shape. Tiberius then asked whether any other man knew the secret of manufacture. The artisan answered no, whereupon the emperor ordered him beheaded.
Glass inlay, widely used from Egyptian times, is often wrongly called enamel. It is not enamel, which, although a vitreous material, is employed in the powdered state and always fused into position by heat, whereas the glass inlay was always cut or molded and cemented into position. This glass inlay is often referred to as paste, which in the modern sense means glass with a high refractive index and high luster employed to imitate the diamond. Good examples of paste may be seen in some eighteenth-century English and French.
For centuries Egypt was the “promised land” of the ancient civilized world, for the Pharaohs had at their disposal enormous stores of gold. The Egyptians excelled in metal-work, especially in gold, and many techniques employed by goldsmiths today can be seen in ancient Egyptian jewelry, particularly for instance the treasure of el LThuin, which was recovered in its entirety and in nearly the same perfect condition in which it had been placed in the tomb; or the jewelry which had once graced the person of the Princess Sit Hathor Yuinet, daughter of King Se'n-Wosret II, who reigned from 1906 to 1887 B.C. and near whose pyramid, at el Lahfin, she was buried.
Her girdle, one of the outstanding pieces of ancient jewelry, is of amethyst beads and hollow gold panther-head ornaments, inside which pellets tinkled whenever the wearer moved. From the same treasure there is the neck-lace with a pectoral of King Se'n-Wosret II. On either side of the pectoral the hawk of the god Horus supports the cartouche of the king and a group of hieroglyphics which signify, "May King Se'n-Wosret II live many hundreds of thousands of years." The pectoral is gold inlaid with lapis lazuli, car-nelian, and turquoise, and the eyes of the shape made of actual flowers, fruits, and leaves, which were presented to guests to wear at banquets and other festivities.
Brilliant color is one of the most attractive characteristics of Egyptian jewelry. It had its origin in the beads, both of semi-precious stones and of faience, which were widely worn during the Old Kingdom (2800-2270 B.C.). Beads of faience of different colors were also in fashion during the XVIII Dynasty. The composition of the broad collars of faience of this period was derived from ornaments of the same engraving, soldering, and metal intaglio.
The Greek jeweler, like the Egyptian, excelled in the arts of embossing and chasing. Greece had little access to precious stones before Alexander's Eastern conquests, and so from the sixth to the fourth century B.C. the jeweler specialized in metalwork. He was a master of both granulated and filigree decoration, and he did exquisite work in plaiting gold into chains and in modeling it into little figures, both human and animal. Much of the best of Greek jewelry is sculpture in little. Ornamental goldwork naturally required more minute workman ship than sculpture in bronze and marble, and excellent modeling often makes little objects impressive as well as intricate.
A few famous examples of ancient Greek jewelry, such as an earring in the form of a siren, is a charming example of Greek jeweler's modeling. Other examples include a pair of earrings of the fourth century B.C. from Madytos on the Hellespont, as well as an eagle and a palmette made of hammered gold sheets; the feathers of the eagle are incised; each leaf is edged with beaded wire; and the fruit is covered with granulation. Another example might be a bracelet, of rock crystal, with gold finials, each finely embossed with a ram's head, which shows skillfully modeled figures, as well as plaited chains, and filigree and granular work of rare minuteness.
The Ganymede jewelry, made soon after 350 B.C., is one of the most precious sets that have come out of antiquity. Most techniques are represented on the earrings, bracelets, brooches, necklace, and emerald ring. On the earrings the figures of Ganymede are solid castings; Ganymede's drapery, the wings and tail. The technique of Etruscan goldwork is much the same as that of the Greek. The metal is thin, it is pressed or beaten out in designs in low relief, and it is further decorated by the surface application of filigree and small granules of gold. Several molds of stone have been discovered, and it is probable that the thin gold was pressed into the mold by means of a metal or agate style, solder being used to fix the separate pieces of gold together whenever necessary. Some of the granulated work is so fine that without a magnifying glass it is almost impossible to believe that the patterns are actually laid on with an infinite number of minute spherical grains. The burial chamber of an Etruscan lady, near Vulci, opened over a century ago, yielded a rich parure.
Archaeologists have recovered several headdresses reflecting the custom Chinese women had of decking their hair with floral ornaments. These are richly colored, and some of the materials used in them, besides gold, are amber, coral, seed pearls, and an exclusively Chinese material-bright blue kingfisher feathers. In Chinese jewelry the art of the metal-worker achieves an exquisite delicacy. A famous golden phoenix crown shows perhaps most clearly of all the works in the exhibition the ability of the goldsmith to take infinite pains. It has more than thirty separate ornaments, made of different con-formations of gold wire and decorated with pearls and other stones.
Many of the ornaments are set on tiny springs so that they quiver with the slightest movement. jade, exquisitely carved. With the exception of pearls, the Chinese did not use precious stones. The prettiness and color of Chinese jewelry tempt one to describe it at length, but according to a Chinese proverb, "A thousand words do not compare with one look." The Japanese also rank high as metalworkers, their sword furniture, the jewelry of the Japanese nobleman, especially showing the subtle skill of the artist in manipulating hard and soft metals. In enriching the fittings many processes of metal ornamentation-relief carving, relief inlay or applique, overlay, incised and recessed carving-are employed. It is the combination of techniques and alloys which makes their work of outstanding interest to jewelers as well as to the amateur. Today these fittings are often worn as jewelry in the West. In Japan sword furniture is frequently signed by masters as well known as famous painters.
A glance at the magnificent weapons from Persia, Turkey, and India will remove any impression that the love of personal adornment is a purely feminine attribute. Orientals often wear daggers embellished with silver and semiprecious stones even over their most ragged clothes, which shows that they take life with a gesture. In India perhaps more than anywhere else, jewelry has played a vital role in the life of the people, from the lowest rank to the highest. Although none of the Indian jewelry is much older than the eighteenth century, it represents designs and methods of decoration that go back to much earlier periods, some of them reflecting the influence of Hellenistic civilization. Some pieces are made of gold or silver alone, others are richly set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds or decorated with enamel. The Greek jeweler, like the Egyptian, excelled in the arts of embossing, chasing,
Much of this jewelry was made in Jaipur, which was particularly famous for its enamelwork. A gold bracelet with dragon-head terminals is an outstanding example of combined jeweled and enameled work. The backs of jeweled ornaments were often enameled with fine patterns, so that the reverse of a necklace or pendant would be as fine in effect as the right side. The jewelry of the nomadic Iranian tribes is represented by a few choice pieces cast in gold and chased. These include many Scythian ornaments, winged griffins, stags, and rosettes, which were used as decoration on clothing; and two clasps of about the first century A.D., Sarmatian and Parthian in origin.
The Middle Ages are perhaps best represented by an extensive collection of jewelry from the Morgan collection, of the period of the barbarian migrations and of the Byzantine period. The gold ornaments in the Albanian Treasure (seventh-ninth century) are thought to be the work of nomad craftsmen in the train of barbarian tribes migrating through the Balkans from Central Asia. The splendid collections of Gallo-Roman, Germanic, and Merovingian jewelry, distinctive features of which are the colored glass inlays and the filigree and beaded work in gold, need only be mentioned, for they have been described and illustrated in the catalogues of Seymour de Ricci. They were made from the fourth to the eighth century A.D., the latest probably not exceeding the reign of Charlemagne (742- 814).
It was Charlemagne who stopped the custom of burying the dead with their weapons and jewelry because all the wealth was going into the ground instead of into the treasury. The result is that much fine jewelry was melted down. The Eastern influence which had come westwards after the year 330, when Constantine transferred his court from Rome to Byzantium (Constantinople), is seen in many pieces of ancient jewelry. The goldsmiths followed the Emperor Constantine to Byzantium, and from there came many marvels of art and beauty as presents to the Western churches. The jewelry in the treasure (sixth century) found on the island of Cyprus is in the Eastern style. It was probably buried during the Arab invasion of the island.
About the beginning of the eleventh century the Byzantine influence had been largely spent, and new styles were introduced. Families of monks, animated by one spirit and educated in the same way, lived in monasteries which were schools of ecclesiastical goldsmiths. They built and adorned their churches; they hammered, chased, and enameled gold, silver, and bronze. Altar fronts, pyxes, lamps, patens, chalices, crosses, candlesticks, and reliquaries were made, and most of their motives of design, methods of working, and chemical processes were the common property of the abbeys. Lay craftsmen, too, devoted more of their energies than previously to building cathedrals and creating ecclesiastical art, and there is consequently a close connection between the work of the architect and the mediaeval goldsmith.
This ecclesiastical influence is seen in a late eleventh-century book cover of silver-gilt, ivory, cabochons, and enamel, from the cathedral of Jaca. Before the multiplication of books by printing, their covers had more to do with the goldsmith's art than with that of the binder. Architectural influence is shown in the French thirteenth-century reliquary of Saint Margaret. Reliquaries like this were master-pieces of work in precious metals. They were built up of innumerable plates soldered together, with buttresses, pinnacles, and traceried windows, like little models of churches or small chapels.
During the Renaissance, everything that could be gold was gold, not only jewelry but plate; and dresses for men and women and even horse trappings were made of cloth of gold. It was an age when the setting of a gem or the molding of a goblet was a matter that would occupy a grave potentate to the exclusion of affairs of state. In order to satisfy the demands of the time Columbus set out not to discover another continent but to find a convenient route to India, the land of gold, pearls, and spices. The Renaissance goldsmiths made the most of the mediaeval tradition in technique and in due course they developed perfection in workmanship. The rich and varied pendants are splendid examples of the renaissance jeweler’s art.
This type of ornament originated in devotional usage, and during the Middle Ages its decoration was almost always of religious significance. The pendant was a conspicuous ornament and was usually of fine workmanship. Portrait medallions, especially those of historical personages, were made by distinguished masters. A splendid pendant, representing Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, is signed by Jacobus Veron (Gian Jacopo Caraglio) and is dated 1554. The cameo portrait of the queen is sardonyx, her chain and hair ornament gold. The Visconti-Sforza arms on the reverse are enameled gold. Among the enseignes, ornaments worn on the turned-back brim of the hat or cap, one superb historical example is one in gold skillfully embossed.
Cellini, in his “Treatise on Goldsmithing,” explains how such embossing was done. In principle, a sheet of gold is beaten from the back with punches until it is bossed up much like the wax model. He completes the explanation by telling of a visit to his workshop by Michelangelo, who complimented him on a gold medal embossed in high relief. Michelangelo reputedly said: “If this work were made in great, whether of marble or of bronze, and fashioned with as exquisite design as this, it would astonish the world; and even in its present size it seems to me so beautiful that I do not think ever a goldsmith of the ancient world fashioned aught to come up to it!” Another technique explained by Cellini is the “beautiful art of enameling.” A splendid example of this technique may be seen on a fine cups, of red jasper mounted with enameled gold and precious stones. It should be compared with the Cellini cup in the Altman collection.
Personal jewelry of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be characterized by snuffboxes and carnets de bal (dance programs), precisely executed, showing the quality of the era’s workmanship. Such boxes, of varicolored gold, jeweled, and set with miniature portraits of their donors, were the favorite gifts of kings and princes. They were enormously costly in their day and they have always been precious collectors’ items. Some of them be- longed to persons famous in history, some are signed by famous jewelers, and all illustrate the extravagant vanities of the time. During the seventeenth century, there developed an increasing fondness for faceted gems set close together to produce glittering masses. Gradually the setting was subordinated to the precious stones, and this is the modern style.
ANCIENT INDUS JEWELRY: The Indus Valley Civilization: An ornamented past, revealed in 5,000-year-old artifacts and jewelry. The Indus Valley Civilization was rich with culture and tradition, revealed in its wealth of beautiful, intricate, and elaborate ornaments, jewelry and artifacts. These items and more are on exhibit at India’s Jewelry Gallery of the National Museum in Delhi. According to DNA India, the display represents the high aesthetic sense of the craftsmen of Old World civilization, and the connection between culture then and now through art, jewelry, coins and pottery.
The National Museum exhibit is entitled Alamkara – The Beauty of Ornament. The museum describes the nature of the collection and the influence of adornment on humanity, observing, “Once decorated with beautiful ornaments, the body assumes form, becomes visible, attractive and perfect. Painstakingly wrought by anonymous goldsmiths in ateliers and workshops across the country, the national museum collection celebrates the great variety of forms, the beauty of Indian design and the genius of Indian craftsmanship,” FirstPost reports.
More than 200 ornaments are on display collected from 3,300 B.C. to the 19th and 20th centuries, including a 5,000 year old necklace, created of steatite and gold beads all capped in gold, with pendants of agate and jade. Guest curator and jewelry historian Usha Balakrishna told DNA India, “"India was the largest manufacturer and exporter of beads to the world at that time...They had the skill of tumbling beads, of cutting semi-precious hardstones, of shaping the beads. India was also home to the diamond and invented the diamond drill, which was then taught to the Romans."
The ancient auspicious image of the swastika can be found on other items featured in the exhibit at the museum. Two square amulets feature lucky swastika symbolism, and Balakrishna says they are "the earliest known representations of swastika in gold known to us.” Other motifs decorating the artifacts are lions, fish, and the 'poorna ghat', known as a vase of plenty in religious ceremonies. The Indus Valley civilization (also called the Harappan era) was one of the earliest known cultures of the Old World, dating from approximately 3,300 to 1,900 B.C., and spanning widely across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Wikipedia notes that the engineering skills of the people were “remarkable”, with great achievements in measurement accuracy and craftsmanship. The subcontinent boasts the longest history of jewelry making in the world, stemming back 5,000 years. These first jewelers created gold earrings, necklaces, beads and bangles, and the wares would be used in trade, and worn mostly by females.
Sir John Marshall of the Archaeological Survey of India is to have been shocked at seeing samples of ancient Indus Valley bronze work in the early 1900s: “When I first saw them I found it difficult to believe that they were prehistoric; they seemed to completely upset all established ideas about early art, and culture. Modeling such as this was unknown in the ancient world up to the Hellenistic age of Greece, and I thought, therefore, that some mistake must surely have been made...”
The showcasing of the art, skills and craftsmanship of the Indus Valley civilization and their descendants is hoped to help fill in some of the gaps in understanding of the history and rich culture of ancient India. [AncientOrigins.Net]. ANCIENT HELLENIC JEWELRY IN ISRAEL: Explorers find Hidden Treasure in Cave – Coins and Jewelry Dating to Alexander the Great. Hidden treasure found by amateur explorers in a cave is being described as one of the most important discoveries in northern Israel in recent years. Members of the Israeli Caving Club have uncovered a rare cache of silver coins and jewelry dating to the reign of Alexander the Great.
The explorers spotted the ancient finds tucked into a narrow crevice of a stalactite cave in the Galilee region of northern Israel. The glint of a shiny, silver object caught the attention of Hen Zakai and his spelunking partners. According to The Jerusalem Post the men found two ancient silver coins, minted in the late fourth century B.C. The remains of a pouch cloth contained jewelry – rings, earrings and bracelets.
The items were well preserved and intricately detailed. CNN reports, “On one side of the coin is an image of Alexander the Great, while on the other side is an image of Zeus sitting on his throne, arm raised as if ready to wield his fearsome lightning bolts. The coins allowed archaeologists to date the find.” Alexander the Great, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, led a military campaign throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia.
Alexander is credited with founding some 20 cities that bore his name, including Alexandria in ancient Egypt, and spread Greece's culture east. He died in Babylon, the present day Iraq, in 323 B.C. It is thought the coins and treasures were stashed by the ancient owners during political unrest, assumedly to be retrieved when it was safe to do so.
Deputy director of the authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery, Dr. Eitan Klein tells The Jerusalem Post, “The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death. “We are talking about something very, very unique,” Klein says, according to CNN.
It seems the original owners never returned, and the rare items remained behind as a time capsule, giving a glimpse into the lives of possible refugees from over 2,300 years ago. Realizing they’d found historically significant items, the cave explorers immediately contacted Israel Antiquities Authority officials (IAA), and a joint investigation of the cave was held. Remnants of pottery were discovered, but some of the ancient vessels have fused with the limestone stalactites of the cave, and cannot be removed.
Mail Online adds that agate gemstones and an oil lamp were also found. “After analyzing the findings in IAA’s laboratory, archeologists determined that some of the artifacts date back to the Chalcolithic period 6,000 years ago, Early Bronze Age 5,000 years ago, Biblical period 3,000 years ago, and the Hellenistic period, approximately 2,300 years ago,” writes The Jerusalem Post.
This find comes after the discovery of a massive hoard of almost 2,000 gold coins by divers in the ancient harbor in Caesarea, Israel. These coins, which are over 1,000 years old, constitute the largest find of its kind in the country. It is believed the treasure belongs to a shipwreck of an official treasury boat on its way to Egypt with collected taxes.
For now the cave’s location remains a secret, and further examinations of the Galilee cave by archaeologists and geologists are planned. It is hoped future digs will reveal other interesting and important finds which will shed light on the lives and times of ancient Israel. [AncientOrigins.net]. THE FIURST QUEEN OF WINDSOR’S JEWELRY CIRCA 2500 B.C. : Almost all that remains of this woman, perhaps the first Queen of Windsor, is her jewelry. Though her clothes long since decomposed and her bones are almost completely decayed, her lavish jewelry remains behind, giving hints to her identity. For this one ancient woman, a diamond—or, at least, her jewelry—is indeed forever. At a quarry between Heathrow airport and Windsor Castle, just outside London, archaeologists just uncovered the remains of a 4,400-year old corpse that may turn out to be the first queen of Windsor.
Though her clothes long since decomposed and her bones are almost completely decayed, her lavish jewelry remains behind, giving hints to her identity and possible royal status. LiveScience reports: "The woman’s bones have been degraded by acid in the soil, making radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis impossible. Nonetheless, excavators believe she was at least 35 years old when she died sometime between 2500-2200 B.C., around the era Stonehenge was constructed."
When this woman was buried, she wore a necklace of tube-shaped gold beads and black disks made from a coal-like material called lignite. Scattered around her remains, archaeologists also found amber buttons and fasteners, hinting that she was buried in an adorned gown that has long since disintegrated. Black beads near her hand were probably once part of a bracelet. A large drinking vessel, a rare find in graves from this time period and area, was also buried near her remains.
From initial isotope analyses, the researchers found that the gold probably originated in southeast Ireland and southern Britain, the black beads from eastern Europe, and the amber perhaps from the Baltic region, Discover writes. As far as who she was, according to the archaeologists in charge of the excavation, Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, the woman was probably “an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items.” This means, Chaffey continued, that she could have been a leader, a person of power or perhaps even a queen. [Smithsonian.com].
NEANDERTHAL JEWELRY: Did Neanderthals make jewelry 130,000 years go? Eagle claws provide clues. Krapina Neanderthals may have manipulated white-tailed eagle talons to make jewelry 130,000 years ago, before the appearance of modern human in Europe, according to a study published March 11, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by David Frayer from University of Kansas and colleagues from Croatia. Researchers describe eight mostly complete white-tailed eagle talons from the Krapina Neanderthal site in present-day Croatia, dating to approximately 130,000 years ago.
These white-tailed eagle bones, discovered more than 100 years ago, all derive from a single time period at Krapina. Four talons bear multiple edge-smoothed cut marks, and eight show polishing facets or abrasion. Three of the largest talons have small notches at roughly the same place along the plantar surface. The authors suggest these features may be part of a jewelry assemblage, like mounting the talons in a necklace or bracelet. Some have argued that Neanderthals lacked symbolic ability or copied this behavior from modern humans, but the presence of the talons indicates that the Krapina Neanderthals may have acquired eagle talons for some kind of symbolic purpose.
They also demonstrate that the Krapina Neanderthals may have made jewelry 80,000 years before the appearance of modern humans in Europe. “It's really a stunning discovery. It's one of those things that just appeared out of the blue. It's so unexpected and it's so startling because there's just nothing like it until very recent times to find this kind of jewelry,” David Frayer said. [AncientOrigins.net].
THE MYCENAEAN “GRIFFIN WARRIOR” I: The Incredible Treasures Found Inside the ‘Griffin Warrior’ Tomb. Why was a Mycenaean soldier buried with so many riches? Every archaeologist dreams of uncovering a trove of historically significant objects. Last spring, that dream became a reality for a team led by two University of Cincinnati scholars, who discovered the grave of a Bronze Age warrior in southwestern Greece. Now, as Nicholas Wade writes for the New York Times, the find has yielded intriguing treasures—and plenty of excitement from archaeologists. The gravesite was found within the ancient city of Pylos.
It’s being called the richest tomb found in the region since the 1950s, Wade reports, for “the richness of its find and its potential for shedding light on the emergence of the Mycenaean civilization.” In a release, the University of Cincinnati lays out the wealth within the grave: bronze jugs; basins of bronze, silver and gold; four solid-gold rings; a bronze sword with an ivory hilt covered in gold; more than 1,000 beads of different gems; a gold-hilted dagger and much more. The entombed skeleton even has a nickname—the “Griffin Warrior”—in reference to an ivory plaque inscribed with a griffin found nearby.
Though the burial objects suggest the Griffin Warrior was an important person, they also raise intriguing questions. “The discovery of so much jewelry with a male burial challenges the commonly held belief that these apparently ‘feminine’ adornments and offerings accompanied only wealthy women to the hereafter,” the excavation team says in the release. The find raises questions about the warrior’s culture, too. He was buried near a Mycenaean palace, but the artifacts within the grave are primarily Minoan.
Mycenaeans lived in the region between the 15th and 13th centuries B.C., dominating the area with military might. Scholars believe the Mycenaeans borrowed greatly from Minoan culture—so much so that some studies of Mycenaean religion even lump the two together. Does the Griffin Warrior suggest a complex cultural interchange between the two civilizations? Archaeologists and historians will work to find answers, Wade writes, by piecing together evidence collected from the grave. And that’s a task researchers will gladly undertake. [Smithsonian.com].
THE MYCENAEAN “GRIFFIN WARRIOR” II: Gold Rings Found in Warrior’s Tomb Connect Two Ancient Greek Cultures. The Minoan Civilization flourished on the Island of Crete from around 2600 to 1200 B.C., building the foundation for classical Greek culture. The ancient Greece of ancient Greece, if you will, the people developed religious concepts, art and architecture that would go on to influence the whole of Western civilization. But their reign was believed to fall when the Mycenaean civilization, which developed on the Peloponnese Peninsula (and gave rise to the heroes of The Iliad), plundered the Minoans and absorbed some aspects of their civilization into their own culture.
But the grave of a Mycenaean warrior uncovered last year in Pylos in the southwest of Greece may tell a different tale, reports Nicholas Wade at The New York Times. In May 2015, archaeologists Shari Stocker and Jack Davis from the University of Cincinnati uncovered the pristine warrior’s grave near the Palace of Nestor in Pylos. The body was that of a warrior in his mid-30s who died around 1500 B.C., Rachel Richardson writes for UC Magazine. Buried with him were some 2,000 objects, including silver cups, beads made of precious stones, ivory combs, a sword and four intricately decorated solid gold rings.
The discovery of the man, dubbed the “Griffin Warrior” because of an ivory plaque decorated with the mythical beast found with him, offers evidence that Mycenaean culture recognized and appreciated Minoan culture more than previously believed, researchers outline in an article soon to be published in the journal Hesperia. Of particular interest are the man’s rings. They are made of multiple sheets of gold and depict very detailed scenes and iconography straight out of Minoan mythology. The rings probably come from Crete where they were used to place seals on documents or objects.
The bull, a sacred symbol for Minoans, appears in two of the rings and the Griffin Warrior was buried with a bronze bull’s head staff. After a year of examining the treasures, Stocker and Davis believe the Mycenaeans, or at least the ones who buried the Griffin warrior, weren’t just pillaging the Minoans for their pretty jewelry. They were exchanging ideas and directly adopting aspects of Minoan culture. They also argue that the Minoan goods and iconograpy were treated like symbols of political power. “People have suggested that the findings in the grave are treasure, like Blackbeard’s treasure, that was just buried along with the dead as impressive contraband,” Davis tells Richardson. “We think that already in this period the people on the mainland already understood much of the religious iconography on these rings, and they were already buying into religious concepts on the island of Crete.” He believes the society that buried the Griffin Warrior was knee-deep in Minoan culture.
“Whoever they are, they are the people introducing Minoan ways to the mainland and forging Mycenaean culture. They were probably dressing like Minoans and building their houses according to styles used on Crete, using Minoan building techniques,” he says. Cynthia W. Shelmerdine of the University of Texas, an expert on the Bronze Age in the Aegean, tells Wade that she agrees that the Minoan rings and other objects found in the grave represent political power in the Griffin Warrior’s culture.
“These things clearly have a power connection…[and] fits with other evidence that the elites on the mainland are increasingly closely connected to the elites on Crete whether or not the rings were used in the Minoan way for sealing objects.” Wade says while the Mycenaean culture adapted many aspects of the Minoans, their direct connection to and memory of that society faded over time and mainly survived in some of the myths they collected from Crete.
The researchers will publicly debut the rings and other objects from the excavation during a lecture this upcoming Thursday. [Smithsonian.com].
THE MYCENAEAN “GRIFFIN WARRIOR” III: Rare Unlooted Grave of Wealthy Warrior Uncovered in Greece. Archaeologists hail the burial, untouched for 3,500 years, as the biggest discovery on mainland Greece in decades. Archaeologists discovered more than 1,400 artifacts in the grave, including a gold necklace more than 30 inches long. The warrior was buried with an array of gold jewelry, including four gold rings. Archaeologists believe most of the precious objects came from Crete.
Archaeologists were surprised to discover artifacts usually associated with women, including a hand mirror and six ivory combs. A carnelian seal stone about the size of a quarter is one of four dozen seal stones buried with the warrior. The bull motif testifies to the influence of the Minoans, who revered bulls, on the later Mycenaeans. Bronze weapons found within the tomb included a three-foot-long sword with an ivory handle covered in gold.
A text message from the trench supervisor to archaeologists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker was succinct: “Better come. Hit bronze.” The excavators exploring a small stone shaft on a rocky promontory in southern Greece had found an unusual tomb of an ancient warrior. The burial may hold important clues to the origin of Greek civilization some 3,500 years ago. Along with the well-preserved skeleton of a man in his early thirties, the grave contains more than 1,400 objects arrayed on and around the body, including gold rings, silver cups, and an elaborate bronze sword with an ivory hilt.
More surprising were 50 stone seals intricately carved with goddesses, lions, and bulls, as well as a half-dozen delicate ivory combs, a bronze mirror, and some 1,000 carnelian, amethyst, and jasper beads once strung together as necklaces. Between the man’s legs lay an ivory plaque carved with a griffin. “Not since Schliemann have complete burials of this type been found in Greece,” says John Bennet, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in Britain and director of the British School at Athens, who is not involved with the dig.
In the late 19th century, archaeological pioneer Heinrich Schliemann excavated Troy and Mycenae, the major Greek center from about 1600 B.C. to 1100 B.C. The grave is located at the southwest end of the Peloponnese peninsula at Pylos, a place mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey as the site of King Nestor’s palace with its “lofty halls.” Excavations before and after World War II revealed remnants of a large Mycenaean palace dating to about 1300 B.C., as well as hundreds of clay tablets written in the Linear B script developed on Crete, an island about 100 miles offshore. Those texts led to the translation of Linear B, and confirmed the identity of Pylos.
But little is known about the earlier period around 1500 B.C., when Mycenaean society was taking shape. Archaeologists have long debated the influence of Minoan civilization, which began to flourish in Crete around 2500 B.C., on the rise of Mycenaean society a thousand years later. Linear B tablets, bull horn symbols, and goddess figurines found at Mycenaean sites like Pylos attest to the impact of Minoan culture. Based on archaeological evidence of destruction, many scholars believe that the Mycenaeans invaded and conquered Crete around 1450 B.C.
In May, Davis and Stocker, a husband-and-wife team from the University of Cincinnati, assembled 35 experts from 10 nations to begin a five-year project aimed at uncovering Pylos’ beginnings. They hit pay dirt on the first day, when workers clearing a field spotted a rectangle of stones that proved to be the top of a four-foot by eight-foot shaft. Three feet down, the excavators spotted the first bronze artifacts. Based on their style, Davis and Stocker are confident that the remains date to about 1500 B.C.
“To find an unrobbed and rich Mycenaean tomb is very rare,” says Cynthia Shelmerdine, a classics professor at the University of Texas at Austin who visited the site during the summer’s excavations. “This one shows us some things we would not have anticipated.” What’s peculiar about the tomb is that it contains only a single person and includes a remarkable wealth of mostly foreign objects, as well as artifacts typically associated with women.
Resting places for the Mycenaean elite usually include many individuals. Just 100 yards from the new find, archaeologists excavated such a group tomb in the 1950s. Davis and Stocker estimate that three-quarters of the finished grave goods in the warrior’s shaft come from Crete—a two-day’s sail to the south—rather than from local sources. There are also amber beads from the Baltic, amethyst from the Middle East, and carnelian that may originate in Egypt that might have been brought to Crete by Minoan traders. “The range and number of Minoan or Minoan-style artifacts in this tomb should greatly deepen our knowledge about the extent of this relationship,” says Shelmerdine.
The presence of beads, combs, and a mirror in a warrior’s tomb poses a puzzle. “The discovery of so much precious jewelry with a male warrior-leader challenges the commonly-held belief that jewelry was buried only with wealthy females,” says Stocker. She adds that Spartan warriors ritually combed their hair before battle, while Davis suggests that the jewelry may have been offerings to the goddess from the dead man on his journey to the underworld.
Who Was This Wealthy Warrior? The unusual nature of the Pylos tomb could mean that he was a Minoan warrior or leader, rather than a native Mycenaean. Alternatively, he may have fought in Crete and brought back plunder or developed a taste for Minoan goods. Or he may have been a Mycenaean leader who wanted to establish a new tradition. What’s clear, the archaeologists say, is that he didn’t want to be associated with the group tombs that were the norm for locals both before and after his death.
Skeletal analysis that may help the team pinpoint his identity will soon get under way, says Stocker. The well-preserved teeth could reveal his genetic background, while examination of the pelvis area may tell researchers about his diet. Studying the bones also may help determine the cause of death. Stocker and Davis will close up the tomb in coming weeks to concentrate on analyzing their many finds. [National Geographic (2015)].
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ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for.
My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting.
Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write.
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